In Sanity We Trust

...Broken News...

"When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident ... or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort."

-- Captain Edward J. Smith who was planning to retire after the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Head On Collision

Gosh, It Was Foggy!

BRESICA, Italy (AP) -- Gaetano Regoli drove slowly through thick fog, leaning his head out of the car window for a closer look at the road. Aristide Goffi also craned his head out sidewise, driving from the opposite direction on a narrow country road.

When the two cars passed, there was literally a head-on collision, the two drivers told police who asked about the injuries when they reported to a hospital. Regoli and Goffi were admitted to the hospital with head injuries. Doctors said they would recover in a week.

-- Waterloo Courier [Iowa] | 20 November 1973, p. 1.

Daily Mail - The Japanese ninja skirt that turns into a Coca Cola machine to ward off attackers


Robert Cornish, of the University of California at Berkeley, believed in the 1930s that he had perfected a way of raising the dead. He experimented by placing corpses on a see-saw to circulate the blood, while injecting adrenalin and anticoagulants.

After apparently successful experiments on strangled dogs, he found a condemned prisoner, Thomas McMonigle, who was prepared to become a human guinea pig. The state of California, however, refused permission, for fear that it would have to release McMonigle if the technique worked.

Elephants on acid - the 10 wackiest experiments of all time

+----------------- Bizarre Coincidences -------------------+

On three separate occasions - in the years 1664, 1785, and 1860 - there was a shipwreck in which only one person survived the accident. Each time that one person was named Hugh Williams.

Several secret code words were devised by Allied military commanders during their preparations to invade Normandy in World War II. Among them: "Utah," "Neptune," "Mulberry," "Omaha," and "Overlord." Before the invasion could begin, however, all of these words appeared in a crossword puzzle in the London Daily Telegraph. After interrogating the puzzle's author, an English school teacher, authorities became convinced that it was sheer, inexplicable coincidence.

-- From Bizarre News

Mother Tongue - A review of Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language, by Seth Lerer
Asia Times - Pakistan shakes off US shackles

Duns Scotus

Duns, dunce, double D, Cannot learn his ABC.

The word dunce, meaning a dulard or slow learner, is not only an eponymous word, but also a paradox for it comes from the name of one of the most brilliant of medieval schoolmen, John Duns Scotus, a Scottish Franciscan Friar who taught philosophy at Oxford, Paris and Cologne.

Scotus, whose contribution to medieval philosophy earned him the name Dr. Subtilis, or Subtle Doctor, was born at Maxton, near Roxburgh, Scotland about 1266. In 1280 he joined the Franciscans at Dumfries, where his uncle, Elias Duns, had been elected Vicar-General two years preiously. In 1291, when he was 25, scotus was ordained in the priesthood by Oliver Sutton, the Bishop of Lincoln., and soon after began his famous teaching.

His Lectures were so popular that the numerous foreign students clamouring to hear them could not be accommodated and had to be turned away. He lectured in Paris during 1302-3, but returned to Oxford when he refused to take the side of King Philip IV of France in his quarrel with Pope Boniface VIII. At the end of 1304 he was sent back to Paris by Gonsalvo of Spain, the Vicar-General of the Franciscans, so that he could prepare for his degree in theology. He won his Mastership at Easter 1305.

Scotus was a deep thinker with a powerful critical mind and criticised many of his contemporary philosophers and his predecessors, including Aristotle, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. Fundamentally he was a member of the Augustinian School, but while he agreed with its main tenets, he rejected many of it's chief theses. His main claim to fame was his defense of the theory of Immaculate Conception and his theory that the existence of God and the immortality of the human soul cannot be proved by human reason.

Scotus's insistence on demonstrative proof challenged the harmony of faith and reason and theology and philosophy, which were the basis of the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Although Scotus tried to show the limitations of human reason, to his critics his arguments had the effect of lessening philosophy's concern with theology.

Scotus died on 8 November 1308 during a lecture tour of Cologne, where he is buried. After his death, his opponents publically burned his books and distorted the meaning of his theories. Anyone who supported his ideas was disparagingly considered to be incapable of real intellectual learning and was labelled a Duns or a Dunser. Over the years the word has been corrupted to its present spelling and meaning.

-- From "The Real McCoy" by Eileen Hellicar

Pishoguerie, or an Old Wives' Tale:

A Wonder Cure For Warts

"There are fairies at the bottom of our garden." You may be one of those who believe in the little folk, but have you ever practised the art of pishoguerie which as everyone knows, is a way of curing things by the aid of the fairies?

Superstition dies hard and as is proved by a reputed cure for warts, which is quite inexplicable by ordinary standards. "For as long as I could remember I had nine warts on my left hand. When I was small they were small, when I grew big they grew accordingly," said a victim.

"When I reached an age when appearances mattered the warts were, big, black, and gruesome. The two biggest were on the knuckle of the third finger of my left hand; when a delicious engagement ring was placed on that finger the warts loomed out on either side like two dark shadows dimming the lustre of the diamonds. What to do? I tried all recognised medical remedies without success."

"I had a friend who had been troubled by warts which she treated scientifically, until a giant excrescence appeared on her nose which refused to be intimidated by science.. She was advised to try the old cure of putting stones into a paper bag and putting them in Some definite place!"

An old wives' tale you say with a cynical shrug...but wait!

Even the Academic

"She was a modern practical and shrewd woman, whose intellect was proclaimed by a long string of academic degrees. She also had the normal vanity of a normal woman and between that and the weight of the wart she could hardly turn up her nose at pishoguerie. The stones in a bag cure worked for her, so I too tried it."

The victim selected nine stones - one for each wart on her hand - dropped them into a paper bag and went forth to deposit them in "some definite place."

This was no simple process, for whenever she tried to get rid of them a policeman or passer-by would be looking suspiciously in her direction. When at last she succeeded in dropping the bag behind a railing she felt as guilty as a real criminal.

Days passed and her warts remained. Maybe it was because she had not chosen a sufficiently popular spot in which to place the stones. She retrieved them and set forth once again.

She climbed onto a bus ... hopped off at the next stop, leaving the bag behind on a seat. She had not gone six yards before friendly pedestrians informed her that someone was calling her. There was the bus driver. He had halted his vehicle between stops, and was brandishing her horrid paper bag, calling, "You left it behind, Miss!"

Safe Deposit

"Just think of all the cherished shopping I have mislaid and no one has ever come forward with the findings," she smiled bitterly. It was somewhat hypocritically that she thanked a newspaper-boy, when next she thought she had disposed of her fast becomming embarrasing bundle. Where could she put it? Irritated beyond imagination, and deep in thought, she suddenly bumped into a telephone box. It hurt but gave rise to an inspired idea. There was no one about as she popped into the booth, slithered the bag to the ground and bolted as though bloodhounds were on her heels.

The next day her warts showed a change for the better. Their hard contours became slightly blurred and a faint pinkish tinge showed through their sooty skin.The change was more pronounced the next day and even more so on the third day.

"After the ninth day, I went to the learned lady who had advised me and showed her my hand, now unblemished and cleaned of all trace of warts. She looked long while I waited to hear her say something profound like, "There are more things in heaven and earth," but with a shrug and in a matter-of-fact tone of voice she commented, "Told you so"!"

A dash of sugar in the cooking water will lesson the odour of onions.

-- New Zealand Free Lance, November 2, 1956

"Hillary tried to get a million dollars for the Woodstock museum. I understand it was a major cultural and pharmaceutical event. I couldn't attend. I was tied up at the time."

- Senator John McCain